Friday, October 24, 2014

Teaching Math through dance and movement

 In the following video, Erik Stern and Karl Schaffer decided to take their love of dance and apply it to their classrooms to teach math through dance movements. 

They discovered a few key things about how to learn, the importance of how embodying a problem is memorable, social and creative, the student’s physical energy is no longer a concern and choreography and mathematical thinking are composed of similar building blocks, remembering sequence, asking the things are bigger or smaller and check your work to see if its consistent. They also explained symmetry and mirror image with dance movements and by copying each other movement and how we tend to think more effectively with special imagery on larger scales. They want to create a mathematics classroom environment where teachers would just say, “ put the books away, and push the desks aside, lets warm up, its time to learn Mathematics”.

In a video below, students use music and sound movement to help them describe different graphs such as linear, quadratic, absolute, cubic. What I found interesting about this approach is students learning these through sounds and movement, which makes the learning more engaging and encourage learners to make their Mathematical thinking more visible. What the words mean, sound and movement help them identify different functions. In my classroom, my students use dance movements to describes different types of graphs as well as transformation concepts in grade 11 and 12. The students should create their own dance movements to describe graphs and their transformations, which is similar to the video here. 

In another video, the students learn in a reach learning environment which increase their understanding of mathematical topics such as congruence, symmetry, transformation, angles and degrees, mapping on a coordinate grid as well as deep experience with mathematical practices and problem solving. 

I do believe by the end of the lessons students have a better understanding of the concepts learned in the classroom and they learn that mathematics can be fun. I do believe bringing dance movements in to Mathematics classroom could benefit students with different learning abilities. Please share if you tried dance movement in any of your lessons.



  1. Bahar, your post was very interesting. I never thought of using dance to teach math, but after seeing your post I think dance would add another dimension in teaching math. I also think it would make math fun. The second video which showed the use of using dance to show the shape of graphed equations could be used in senior math.

  2. The idea of using movement and dance to teach is wonderful! I use similar visualization techniques when teaching molecular modelling in chemistry class. Many students are able to understand and remember abstract concepts if they can act them out or visualize them in some way. When students need to recall these ideas later it will be this type of unique activity that will remind them of the theory. This is a great share, thanks!

  3. Some of our schools, and mine has been one of the lucky ones, have participated in the Learning Through the Arts program, in which artists of various disciplines plan a unit with teachers and visit their classes three or four times over several weeks. The artists include visual artists, a puppeteer, a musician, and yes, dancers. Although when the dancers worked with my classes, we did language and science, there was a demonstration at a workshop I attended of ways that dance can be used to teach math. I thought it quite innovative. The artists’ visits were certainly engaging to my junior-level classes, and I think that my intermediate students would like these types of activities just as much. As for making the learning memorable, well, I still remember the song that went with our digestive system dance (imagine! a digestive system dance).